The Datu’s Lordship



Did you know that datu is a noble title that is equivalent to a lord or chief in the precolonial Philippines, and it is still being used today in some parts of the archipelago.

The term datu is indigenous to Southeast Asia, originating from the Malayans. The spelling variations for datu are dato or datuk.

In precolonial times, the datu’s role was of prime importance, for he was to govern his people, settling conflicts and judging disputes. He was also to lead his warriors into wars and protect his territory from their enemies.

Some of the famous datus were:

  • Datu Puti
  • Datu Sumakwel
  • Datu Lapu-Lapu
  • Datu Zula


From the word datu, we can learn that:

  1. Leadership is innate in the Filipino character.
  2. Nobility is observed and respected by the ancient Filipinos.
  3. Governance is existent during the precolonial times of the Philippines.


  • Kintanar, Thelma B. and Associates (1996). Cultural Dictionary for Filipinos. Quezon City: University of the Philippines.
  • Scott, William Henry (1994). Barangay: Sixteenth-Century Philippine Culture and Society. Quezon City: Ateneo De Manila University Press.
  • Artwork Information: a detail from the Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom or the Lapu Lapu Monument located at Rizal Park, Manila.

This is a public service, an educational campaign drive of Datu Press®.

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